We do this at 9 weeks after sowing, into expanded polystyrene trays with holes of 3.5cm diameter.
The medium is a well aerated compost of young peat enriched with 500g of general NP2O5K2O mix per c.m.
Holes are made beforehand so as not to break the seedlings’ roots.
The tuber must be in the upper layer of the growing medium.
Glasshouse temperature should be 17ºC (63ºF) to 19ºC (66ºF) and light intensity should not exceed 20,000 lux.
Fertiliser is applied through irrigation with every watering, at a concentration of 0.45g/litre, with an NPK balance of 1:0.7:2 and resulting in a conductivity of 0.8 mS/cm.
It is important:
After being pricked out the plants are treated protectively against thrips, fungus gnats, shore flies (scatella) and Noctuid moths.
We do this at 8 or 9 weeks after sowing; the operation must be completed before the appearance of the second and third leaves of the plant: in any case it is important to have it done before the tenth week. The reason is that at this stage the plant puts out three anchor roots and these are critical for its future life.
At this stage the first buds are already starting to form.
As we prick out the seedlings it is essential to avoid damaging the root system; so the young plants have to be handled with care.
We use polystyrene transplanting trays, with 72 holes of 3.5cm diameter and 3.5cm deep. These holes are in a star shape (a patented system from Holland).
The transplanting cells, 3.5 x 3.5cm, allow good tuber establishment; moreover these cells’ shape encourages the delicate, fragile root system to grow into the parts that are favoured with better aeration.
Black plastic trays are to be avoided; there is more danger that strong sunlight may heat them up; and drainage is not so good either.
At this stage we remove the fleece from under the trays and do not use it again.
The transplanting medium is the same as that for sowing, but for a few details: a few elements are a little coarser.
The composition is:
- pH between 5.6 and 5.8
To this sowing medium we add either Biofox (1kg/c.m) or Fusaclean (200/c.m), for biological control of the vascular wilt disease pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum.
Before transplanting it is important to make sure that the seedlings’ compost is not too damp.
During transplanting, watch that the tuber is kept under the surface of the medium, or it will harden and this will check the young plant’s growth. Cyclamen must be pricked out loosely and not pressed down.
Furthermore, if you can be methodical in transplanting so that all the cotyledons are arranged in the same direction, this will ensure that the light is evenly shared, as well as improving the look of the trays as a whole.
If the seedling is pricked out too deep, flowering will be set back; if high in the pot the anchor roots will not be able to grow and the plant will lack stability.
We use a tool for getting the root and earth ball out of the hole in the tray, which makes it easier to remove plant, ball and all, and keeps the root system entire. In the course of this operation the compost that was used to cover the seed comes off of its own accord, and is to be thrown away. The plants are then pricked out into the cells of the transplanting tray, where a preparatory hole has been made in the medium to receive them. The amount of compost used is more than the volume of the cells; this means that a continuous mat of compost is left on the surface of the tray, allowing moisture to spread from cell to cell and making it easier to water.
Night-time temperature should be kept to 17ºC (63ºF) - 19ºC (66ºF).
Light intensity should be a maximum of 20,000 lux.
The young plants that have been pricked out should be copiously watered with a system that ensures gentle treatment, dispersing the water in the form of a very fine rain. For this, we recommend watering with a rose that has extremely fine holes.
From the 3 leaf stage onward, we advise lowering the humidity of the medium. If the water supply is not reduced, the leaf stalks have a tendency to grow and the heart of the plant does not then receive enough light to bring out new leaves.
Supplementary fertiliser is applied through irrigation. The fertiliser used is the same as during germination and at the same dosage. The nutrient solution is 0.45g/litre, with an NP2O5K2O balance of 1:0.7:2 and resulting in a conductivity (electrical) of 0.8 mS/cm.
We need to remember that the younger a plant is, the less it can tolerate concentrations of salts; application must therefore be graded according to plant size.
Plant protection treatment starts with transplanting; and it is important, since pests and diseases may be present and attack even before the leaves are fully deployed. We recommend giving quite frequent treatment whether by spray or scattering. Dosage, though, should be kept to moderate levels because of the plants’ youth: they must not be shocked. The cotyledon, we should remember, is extremely sensitive.
There are certain products not officially recommended for cyclamen but which have nevertheless shown some effectiveness in trials. Their use is however entirely at the grower’s own risk. We strongly advise testing beforehand on a plant sample in order to measure the chemical’s activity (establishing the dose) and any effect on the plant (plant poisoning).
The constant development of the regulations and homologations of phytosanitary treatment products, and the differences in regulations according to each country make it impossible for us to include updated information on homologations. Each producer will have to contact his local plant protection bureau to obtain the latest updates concerning the regulations and use of phytosanitary products.
The young plants must be transported at a temperature of around 8ºC (46ºF) to avoid wilting.
Until the time comes for potting on, all operations are the same whether normal sized cyclamen or mini cyclamen are to be produced.
The sowing, the seedling stage and the transplanting are critical for later growth and development; If they are done according to the rules then in the end the plants will flower as they should.
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